Proverbs 17:9

ESV Whoever covers an offense seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends.
NIV Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.
NASB One who conceals an offense seeks love, But one who repeats a matter separates close friends.
CSB Whoever conceals an offense promotes love, but whoever gossips about it separates friends.
NLT Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.
KJV He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.

What does Proverbs 17:9 mean?

Solomon offers a contrast between discretion and gossip. Godly "discretion" does not mean ignoring offenses or hiding crimes. This is not the attitude referred to in English as "sweeping it under the rug." Rather, those who seek to demonstrate love (John 13:34–35; Romans 12:10) aim for repentance and reconciliation (Proverbs 10:12). That might involve consequences (1 Corinthians 5:13), but the primary goal is bringing others closer to God. Choosing to handle offenses with grace can even convince an enemy of their own wrongdoing (Proverbs 16:7).

The opposite extreme from entirely ignoring a problem is indiscretion: repeating the news of an offense to those who have no reason to know about it. As with the first half of the proverb, the intent is not to discourage accountability. Informing authorities is not gossip; saying nothing could mean enabling sin. What this part of the proverb describes are personal differences, mistakes, or embarrassments (Proverbs 12:16). "Blabbing" about someone else's shortcomings is a form of damaging, evil speech (Proverbs 16:27–28). Even good friendships can be destroyed by such betrayals.

The New Testament strongly condemns gossip and the actions of a busybody. It encourages believers to help whenever a brother is overtaken in a transgression. Galatians 6:1 instructs: "Brothers, if anyone is caught in a transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted."
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